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The Birth of a Smart and Zero Carbon Container Terminal

Source: Science and Technology Daily| 2021-10-28 09:22:22| Author: LU Zijian

Artificial Intelligence Robots of Transportation (ARTs) driving at the smart and zero carbon container terminal at Section C of Beijiang Port Area of Tianjin Port. (PHOTO: XINHUA)

By LU Zijian

Located in Tianjin Port, north China, the world's first smart and zero-carbon container terminal began operation on October 17.

Accompanied by the completion of the construction, 13 world-class conundrums are answered and 76 patents and know how are created as well. It offers a Chinese solution to the intelligent upgrading and low-carbon development of container terminals to the world.

A smart terminal

This terminal at Section C of Beijiang Port Area of Tianjin Port is the realization of the automated container terminal 2.0 project proposed by Tianjin Port Group (TPG).

It was difficult to transform the idea into reality as there was no precedent.

The intelligent horizontal transportation administration system used by the terminal is the first of its kind in the world.

As the "smart brain" of the terminal, the system can calculate the optimal solution for loading and unloading automatically, enhancing efficiency by 20 percent compared to traditional terminals.

The system is a combination of single trolley quay crane, ground intelligent unlocking station, Artificial Intelligence Robot of Transportation (ART), and horizontal transportation side loading and unloading yard.

Upgraded from unmanned container trucks at Tianjin Port, ART is the world's most intelligent and lightest unmanned container truck with the lowest cost and energy consumption. It has also realized level-4 piloted driving.

Compared with traditional automated container terminals, the smart terminal needs 60 percent fewer employees, reduces 50 percent of the reversed transportation of container operation and can transport 39 natural containers (in different sizes) per hour.

The terminal also benefits from the combination of 5G technology and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). A hundred and fifty-five 5G base stations were built in the port, covering the major part of the port with 5G network. Together with a BDS reference station, dynamic high-precision positioning at millimeter level can be achieved. See page 2

Zero carbon terminal

As the first to realize self-sufficient green power generation and consumption in the world, the terminal emits no carbon dioxide in its operation. The energy consumption of the terminal is 17 percent lower than that of traditional automated container terminals.

“All facilities are powered by electricity generated by the integrated storage and load system of wind and solar energy. No carbon dioxide will be emitted in the process," said Yang Jiemin, vice president of TPG.

With three berths, 12 quay cranes, 42 bridge cranes and 76 ARTs in operation, it is not easy to realize zero carbon emissions in such a large area.

According to Yang Rong, general manager of Tianjin Port Second Container Terminal, two 4.5 megawatt offshore wind turbines, generating up to 25 million kWh annually, were planned when the terminal was designed. Solar photovoltaic panels covering more than 3,700 square meters were installed on building roofs and greenbelts at the port.

Both approaches are making full use of the port's natural advantages — abundant wind energy and large area, which will reduce 30 percent of cost of operation compared with that in automatic container terminals at the same coastlines, noted Yang Jiemin.

“There are also two small power storage stations at the terminal," said Yang Jiemin, adding unused electricity can be transmitted back to the State Grid.

As for ships ashore, the terminal set up a shore power system to provide electricity, realizing the zero carbon emissions of the ships.

Jiao Guangjun, president of TPG, said that they have also adopted advanced energy monitoring technologies, analyzing the statistics of all types of energy consumption in real-time, ensuring zero carbon emissions.

The operation of the terminal is not only a step towards China's goal in carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, but also a duplicatable scheme for the upgrading of container terminals that can be promoted globally.


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